Catching Striped Bass on artificial lures may be one of the most exciting experiences one can experience in the surf. When it comes to Striper fishing, live bait is usually the norm but some people may not be able to get live bait for whatever reason. In that case and many others, throwing artificial lures at a school or individual fish will provoke a much-wanted strike so you can reel it in.
The best lures for Stripers are not only effective but are often easy to use. As odd as it may seem, catching huge specimens on artificial is not uncommon and may even outproduce real bait on certain days. Take the Striped Bass for a minute. Full of power and built like a warship, they prefer to pounce on prey if given the chance but they will also engage in somewhat odd feeding habits.
Because they are opportunistic feeders, they love to eat anything they come across and will very rarely turn down anything that should be, would be, or could be any sort of food. Unfortunately though, what is best is a highly debatable topic and what qualifies as the best ones have no real parameters on what defines them. It includes various factors in the certification process.
Things like weather, action, color, hooks, time, place, and other things can change what ultimately happens. Because of this, one must understand that the “best” one is not defined by a dictionary but rather, it is defined by your own personal preferences.
The ones on this list may not be best to some people, but they have certainly earned their place in the top quota because they have essentially changed the game for Striper fishermen as well as surf fishermen in general. Even so, the lures on this list are sure to help you on your journey to finding the biggest ones in the water as well as bag a ton of keepers along the way. The lures below are in no particular order.
1. Deep Diving Crankbaits
Whenever the fish are down deep, having a bait that can get down there easily is imperative to your success. Deep-diving crankbaits or trolling plugs with a big lip are especially unique for their ability to be effective in the deepest of water which is what you need in the surf.
This even holds true in very deep freshwater where they are born and even live for a time. These particular fish are extremely different from many other species because they have adapted to life in freshwater as well as saltwater. What that means for you is that you can expect to get catches from massive depths regardless of the water’s salinity.
Since they are naturally hatch and live in saltwater to begin with, their habits in the depths they prefer to inhabit do not change much from wat4er body to water body. Much of the time, you can expect any predator saltwater fish to dive to incredible distances. They actually spawn in fresh and this is how the fry seeks protection from many of their saltwater predators.
Having a deep-diving crankbait that can get well into the strike zone without much issue is the determining factor in being successful. You want that baitfish image so they can see it. You want that erratic action so they can sense it or find it from afar off. Most importantly though, you want something that will dive down to their level and having a deep diver provides just that. These lures do it all.
Our Top Pick: Somewhat smaller than other minnow style baits, the Cotton Cordell Redfin is a favorite among Striper catchers. Because of its slightly smaller size in comparison to other similar minnow-shaped divers, you may find it a little harder to cast. Do not let this deter you from throwing one.
It is a great plug for searching and can cover water quickly. The action of this hollow lure is attractive to pretty much every Striper in the area and has the right to brag about some awesome success stories. You can always add weight too.
It swims slightly more shallow than does say, a solid plug. Add to that the action which is comparable to other plugs yet hallow, it creates an effective presentation for when fish are feeding more shallow in the water column.
2. Topwater Walking Baits
Do not be fooled by the previous lure recommendation. The fish do not ALWAYS dive very deep. In fact, many times exist when they will actually come right up to the surface and hit a topwater lure hard enough to hook themselves around 40% of the time. When they are actually in the mood to bust fish on the surface, you can draw them in with some sort of walking bait.
They provide surface agitation as well as sound, vibration, and a few visual images from the bottom. Not only is topwater fishing fun, but it is also amplified when a huge monster female rips a walker off the surface and then proceeds to swim down 50+ feet with it in its mouth, straight down. What a thrill!
Fish will be more ready to hit topwater walkers when there is limited sunlight that makes it through the clouds to heat the water up. In colder weather, particularly Fall going into Winter, fishing slower and slower is the way to do it and one of the best ways to tempt them is to work a walker slowly.
Not all walkers are created equal though. The rattle inside may not seem like it matters too much but it does. Choose a walker with the right rattle for the best results. Choose wisely and fish it slow.
Our Top Pick: Out of every walking topwater bait out there that we have tried, the best one we have found to work for this species is the Rapala Skitter Walk. The rattle inside of the Skitter Walk is extremely unique because it is more subtle than most other walking baits.
They come in a ton of great baitfish imitating colors as well as an assortment of brightly hued variations. Rapala is the brand of the originally wounded baitfish fishing lure. They pretty much have the sport down to a Science.
3. Casting Spoons
If you want an aggressive action in warmer water without agitating the fish, you need to be throwing casting spoons. While they may look a little funny on the surface of things, casting spoons look exactly like wounded Baitfish swimming through the water when retrieved. The casting spoon is a great baitfish imitator and it casts like a rocket.
They’re not only helpful exclusively in warm water though. You can even throw them in the coldest parts of winter and be as equally successful. These lures are designed to be fished with a straight retrieve. Big female Striped bass have been pounding on casting spoons for as long as anyone can remember. In contrast to many other offerings, what is different about the casting spoon is the one treble hook.
This means that your hookup ratio will go down effectively 50% then if you were to throw say, a walker or crankbait that has at least 2 trebles. Still, when a fish comes and grabs them, they usually have the whole lure in their mouth anyway. Always be sure to accurately match the natural color of the baitfish in your area on your lures paint job. Casting spoons can be tricky and the secret is to fool the predators.
You can cast them as well as troll them behind the back of the boat at a slow speed. You can also add a curly tail grub or similar soft plastic body onto the hook to make it more appealing. Some spoons come already equipped with bucktail, squirrel hair, feathers, or other hook dressings. If possible, try to match these choose the color of the bait very closely.
Our Top Pick: If you are confused about which casting spoon to try out, try the Acme Kastmaster saltwater spoon first. It has been a go-to bait ever since 1952, the year when it was invented. It perfectly mimics slender-bodied baitfish like Smelt, Shiners, Mackerel, and Sand Eels.
It also shines like a beacon to attract fish from afar off. You can cast it, troll it, or jig it. It will be effective in pretty much every season of the year, in pretty much every water depth. The Kastmaster also includes a few great colors to help you match the hatch better.
No tackle box would be complete without a swimbait of some sort. Why a swimbait? One word. Realism. If you are after the biggest trophies in the water, you can count on the swimbait to produce the big bite for you. In saying this, you can also bag a lot of decent-sized ones also. No fishing lures can compare to the swimbait when it comes to realism and big fish appeal.
They look almost exactly like the real thing. Believe it or not, it can make a difference in not only the amount of fish you get but the size of them as well. It stands to reason that if your fishing lure looks and swims exactly like a real baitfish that they naturally eat, it will get hit a lot more often and by bigger individuals. When you throw a swimbait, remember that they can especially deadly in colder water.
When their metabolism starts to go down and that water temperature gets colder, they will travel farther to hit a well-presented swimbait than they will for pretty much everything else in your tackle box. What is great about them is that they are not cold water exclusives either. You can throw them when the water is warmer too and still get extremely successful days on the water.
Learning how to fish with swimbaits is a skill set that is well worth the time and patience needed to master. Whether you should choose to fish a hard swimbait over a soft swimbait or vice versa, it really depends on what action and depth you are trying to achieve. Harder swimbaits usually dive deeper and have a more erratic action while soft swimbaits have a diving depth that varies exclusively with the weight you are using if any. They also tend to move a lot more naturally which can help in some cases.
Our Top Pick: Since swimbait fishing can get particularly expensive, those in the market for using them would do well to give the Storm Wildeye Swim Shad a chance to prove its worth. Without breaking the bank, you get a versatile lure that can be used in almost all waters.
They should function perfectly on the gear you already have set up. The tail is a paddle tail variety so it will gently rock side to side on the retrieve. It comes pre-rigged with two very sharp hooks to make sticking those giants extremely easy.
5. Bucktail Jigs
It just seems that wherever you go regardless if they may linger in fresh or saltwater, Striped Bass are particularly fond of bucktails. Bucktails are somewhat funny looking and do not look like they would catch much of anything. Even so, we dare you to try it out regardless because it is a great idea if you are after them. Bucktail jigs are little more than jigheads of varying shapes with deer (buck) hair on the end. Sometimes they will throw on a spinning blade, but other than that, bucktail jigs are pretty basic.
Bucktail jigs are effective in cold water and warm water alike. Bucktails come in lots of great colors too. While white is generally the most used, they also offer colors like yellow or chartreuse and even baitfish patterns. You cast them out and wait for them to touch the bottom. Then, you start to hug the bottom with the jig. Sometimes you can even add a white curly tail grub to make it more appealing.
In areas that draw a decent amount of current is where bucktails really shine although they also do extremely well in still water. Bucktail jigs with attached spinners can be effectively fished by making a long cast, waiting for it to sink, and reeling it straight in at a moderate to fast pace. These lures are incredibly versatile and can be made to fit many rigs or situations.
Our Top Pick: Hands down, the most effective bucktail jig that we have found is the Hyper Striper spinner blade model. 3/4 of an ounce, a razor-sharp hook, a pure white color, and a small rotating blade to add sparkle.
Sometimes, having the blade will help out a ton. Other times, it doesn’t really matter. These lures have been catching fish for as long as many can remember.
The fish still try to tear them apart. They cannot seem to get enough of the subtle but enticing action of the hair on the end.
Especially in current, that hair moves around and creates a very lifelike swimming motion. It also comes in many colors as well as spinning versions.
Is There Really A “Best” Lure For Striped Bass?
In short, yes. There certainly are some fishing lures out there that are traditionally more effective at catching them as opposed to other ones. The term “best” supposes that there is only one and this one outperforms all the others. It is a topic with some validity but it is not singular in nature.
The greatest ones that you should throw include, deep diving crankbaits, walkers, spoons, swimbaits, and bucktails in no particular order. What ultimately determines what works the best where you fish will vary but having all of these with you are sure to get you some nice catches regardless of where you choose to target these awesome fish. Fish vary and so should you. Try them all to see what works best in your area!
What is your preferred lure for these beastly predators? Have anything else you want to share? Stories, lures, tips? Leave them in a reply below this post so we can hear what you have to say. You can help other fishermen with your comment!